Training and Data Quality in the Northeast
Providing training and data quality services to promote excellence in fishery-dependent data collection.
We train, certify, and retain high performing observers and ensure that all collected data meet the high standards necessary for effective management of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic fishery resources.“Observer” may refer to any observer, monitor, shore-side sampler, or electronic monitoring reviewer.
We have a thorough training and certification process. It is supported by an effective curriculum and a number of standards and policies. The process is designed to inform observer candidates of expectations and promote success in fishery-dependent data collection in the field.
Our training is focused on regional fisheries needs. Some of the topics covered include:
- Safety procedures and protocols
- Conflict resolution
- Fish species identification
- Seabird species identification
- Protected species identification
- Biological sampling
- Fishing operations and gear
- Data collection
- Submission requirements
Training doesn’t end in the classroom. Upon successful completion of the training course, each candidate must also first demonstrate their ability to meet program standards in the field, before becoming certified and eligible for deployment.
Observer safety is critical to effective deployment of observers on commercial fishing vessels. Safety training and continual refreshers ensure that our observers have the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to recognize potentially dangerous situations while deployed. It also ensures they can take steps to protect the health and well-being of themselves and those around them.
The Data Processing Team ensures that all data collected by observers meet the high standards required to inform fishery management decisions. This requires a rigorous quality assurance/quality control process involving a number of key components.
Data Processing and Review
- Data are evaluated trip-by-trip. This review by both trained staff and automated systems ensures that all errors are identified and corrected.
- Data debriefers serve as mentors and perform initial data checks. They work closely with observers to reinforce strong sampling habits and to ensure that all trip events are properly documented.
- Data are validated against computer audits to ensure consistent quality among all observers and all trips.
- Preliminary and final data are prioritized by program and made available to users in a timely manner.
- As program requirements evolve or new situations are encountered, they are discussed and documented for future reference.
- Other data quality staff ensure that all trip data are properly assigned, accurately entered into our database, and archived for future reference.
Proper species identification is a crucial component of all observer programs. Candidates are expected to be familiar with the common Atlantic species found off the Northeast U.S. and have training and experience in fish identification.
Learn more about our species verification program.
Incidental takes occur when marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds come in contact with a fishing vessel or its gear. Observers are required to document these events if they happen during a fishing trip.
Documentation of incidental takes can include collecting images, taking measurements, and collecting biological samples, depending on the trip type.
When feasible, whole animals are brought in for additional data collection or training purposes. Most often, whole samples are necropsied in collaboration with others within the center, such as the Protected Species Branch.
Observers also provide detailed accounts of how the animal was entangled and the damage caused by gear. This information is extremely valuable for ongoing research creating future gear modifications, understanding protected species interactions with vessels, and learning about specific species behavior and life history.
Electronic monitoring uses video technology to record bycatch and verify catch. Electronic monitoring data supplements observer data.
We support these efforts by providing secondary review of electronic monitoring data, developing and implementing data quality standards, and by training video reviewers for third party electronic monitoring providers.
- Learn more about Electronic Monitoring (National)
Branch Chief: Ryan Shama
Fishery Monitoring and Research Division Staff Directory
Training and Data Quality Branch
Observer Training Center at Tech Park
25 Bernard East Saint Jean Drive
East Falmouth, MA 02536